The small, landlocked South American country of Paraguay is the 110th-largest supplier of goods to the United States, specializing primarily in agricultural products. The U.S. receives $100 million to $150 million worth of imports from Paraguay each year. Here are some of the goods that Americans get from this tiny tropical country.
What the U.S. Imports from Paraguay
Almost everything the U.S. buys from Paraguay comes from the ground, such as sugar, grains, seeds, fruit, and tea. The U.S. also buys about $23 million worth of precious metals and stones from Paraguay each year. About half of Paraguay’s workers occupy the agricultural sector, which produces about a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product.
Other goods the U.S. imports from Paraguay include animal products, sweeteners, raw beet, vegetable oils, and essential oils. Although soy is the country’s most important crop, which it exports for $1.8 billion per year, the U.S. produces so much soy on its own that it doesn’t need to import much from Paraguay.
How and Why the U.S. Gets Paraguay Exports
Paraguay’s tropical climate makes it ideal for growing cash crops that other countries want but won’t produce themselves. Paraguay also has a sizeable subtropical area, ensuring greater crop diversity. Crucially, Paraguayan farmers know how to process oils from plants quickly and efficiently, giving them a comparative advantage in the global market. These factors explain why the U.S. imports goods from Paraguay.
Paraguayan farms are mainly traditional, and many farmers in Paraguay live at or near subsistence. These farmers often harvest and process their crops by hand; the goods are then shipped to the United States.
Essential oils are one of the most popular Paraguayan exports to the United States. Paraguay has plenty of orange trees, which petitgrain essential oil is source from its fresh leaves and green twigs of the tree. These trees are found in the forested areas of the country, and though the tree is native to Southeast Asia, it was brought to South America in 1873. Farmers harvest the trees by machete and haul the goods to processing areas via ox carts. Since the tree can be harvested all year, small villages throughout the country can enjoy steady work.
Petitgrain oil has a crisp, tropical scent that helps many people sleep when added to a diffuser. Petitgrain is also a common additive in shower gels and has a relaxing aroma. Another essential oil that Paraguay exports to the U.S. is tung oil, which comes from tung nuts and serves as a drying agent in paints. Paraguay also exports coconut, cottonseed, peanut, palm, and castor bean oils to the U.S., among other types.
Although Paraguay’s economy is small by global standards, its dedication to its agricultural niche has provided the U.S. a wide range of quality products.